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Developmental Biology - Skin

Sunscreen Can Reduce Melanoma By 40%

Australians aged 18-40 years who are regular users of sunscreen since childhood reduce their risk of melanoma by 70 years old — by 40%...

A world-first study led by University of Sydney finds that Australians aged 18-40 years who regularly used sunscreen in childhood reduced their risk of developing melanoma by 40 percent, as compared to those who rarely used sunscreen.

Melanoma is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australian men aged 25-49 years and second most common cancer in women aged 25-49 years, after breast cancer. Approximately two in three Australians will be diagnosed with melanoma or other types of skin cancer by the time they are 70 years old.

Published in JAMA Dermatology, this is the first study to examine the association between sunscreen use with melanoma risk in young people under 40 years. The study analysed data collected from nearly 1700 people who participated in the Australian Melanoma Family Study.
"Our study shows that sunscreen use in childhood and adulthood was protective against melanoma in young people 18-40 years old, with their risk reduced by 35 to 40 percent for regular sunscreen users compared to people who rarely used it."

Anne Cust PhD, Associate Professor, Head of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research, University of Sydney, School of Public Health and Melanoma Institute, Sydney, Australia.

She continues: "The association of sun exposure and sunburn with melanoma risk, particularly in childhood, is well established and this study shows that regularly using it was protective against sun's harmful effects. The study confirms it is an effective form of sun protection, reducing risk of developing melanoma as a young adult. Apply regularly during childhood and throughout adulthood whenever the UV Index is 3 or above."

There are limited data among young adults on sunscreen use during childhood and adulthood and on the association of sunscreen use with melanoma risk.

To assess correlates of early-life sunscreen use and the association between sunscreen use and risk of cutaneous melanoma before age 40 years.

Design, Setting, and Participants
This population-based, case-control family study analyzed Australian Melanoma Family Study data for persons with questionnaire data on sunscreen use collected by interview from 2001 to 2005 across 3 states in Australia, representing two-thirds of the country’s population. Case participants (aged 18-39 years) had confirmed first primary melanoma. Siblings of case participants were included, and case participants without a sibling control were excluded. Unrelated controls (aged 18-44 years) were recruited from the electoral roll or were a spouse, partner, or friend nominated by case participants. Data analyses were conducted from October 2017 to February 2018.

Self and parent reported sunscreen use, sun exposure, and other candidate risk factors during childhood and adulthood.

Main Outcomes and Measures
Logistic regression analyses adjusted for potential confounders were used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) for melanoma and for correlates of sunscreen use.

Conclusions and Relevance
Our findings provided evidence that regular sunscreen use is significantly associated with reduced risk of cutaneous melanoma among young adults and identified several characteristics associated with less sunscreen use.

Caroline G. Watts, MPH, PhD; Martin Drummond, MBiost; Chris Goumas, MPH; Helen Schmid, MPH; Bruce K. Armstrong, MBBS, PhD, FAFPHM; Joanne F. Aitken, PhD; Mark A. Jenkins, PhD; Graham G. Giles, PhD; John L. Hopper, PhD; Graham J. Mann, PhD; Anne E. Cust, MPH, PhD

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

The Australian Melanoma Family Study was conducted in collaboration with Cancer Council Queensland and University of Melbourne and funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Cancer Council NSW, Cancer Council Victoria, Cancer Council Queensland, and the US National Institutes of Health.

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Apr 1 2019   Fetal Timeline   Maternal Timeline   News  

Regular sunscreen use is associated with significant reduced risk of melanoma among young adults. Image: Public Domain.

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